VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Marc Dos Santos rebuild of the Vancouver Whitecaps is underway.
The Whitecaps exercised 2019 contract options on seven players on Monday, taking their squad to 17 signed players for next season. It’s a good base for new 'Caps coach to work from and one which leaves him with a firm idea of just what particular areas he needs to strengthen.
"It gives us a better picture of everything," Dos Santos told reporters on Monday. “By having made some moves, now we know exactly what we need, what we need to do next. Again, we said it from the start there was a lot of good things that were done here in the past, so we want to look at everything in the past carefully, but also looking at where we want to be in the next few years."
Among those coming back for next season will be Peruvian forward Yordy Reyna and Canadian center back Doneil Henry. But it is perhaps those players whose options were not picked up, such as goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and midfielder Aly Ghazal, that offers a better indication of the kind of team Dos Santos is looking to build and what areas will now be his key priorities.
"Every decision is about the club," Dos Santos reiterated. "I look at Vancouver Whitecaps. What’s the best for the team. Where does this club want to be in the future? We also looked at the other possibilities because before you don't pick the option of someone, you need to be back up with other things you can do. I think what we're doing next is also very exciting."
What the future holds in store for two of the Whitecaps’ leading veterans, however, remains very much up in the air.
Leading scorer Kei Kamara (pictured above, right) is out of contract and may not return, while club captain Kendall Waston (pictured above, left) has made it clear he wants to leave the club. No discussions have taken place yet between the new ‘Caps coach and the Costa Rican due to international commitments and holidays, but Dos Santos reaffirmed his desire to talk to Waston to remedy the situation.
"We want to sit down face to face," Dos Santos said. "You are all aware about how he expressed about the future, what he wanted, so this is not a conversation you have on the phone. In my opinion it’s something you do face to face, so it’s going to be done soon, hopefully."
But does a physical player like Waston even fit into the kind of team Dos Santos is looking to build?
"In some things yes, in others no," Dos Santos answered. "An example with Kendall, I think he needs to take more risks as a player, play higher on the field, and these are all things that we're going to discuss with him.
"But it's not only looking at the players, but it's also looking at the total package. Looking at what they bring every day in the locker room. How they train. Their commitment to the club. Everything counts when you're taking a decision on a player."
The next stage of the rebuilding process begins now, with Dos Santos revealing that he plans to be "very active" in the upcoming MLS trade and draft windows, along with plans to bring in players from outside the league, including some new Designated Players.
He may be armed with the hefty transfer pot from Alphonso Davies’ sale to Bayern Munich, but the new 'Caps coach cautioned that supporters shouldn't expect a complete overhaul immediately.
"I feel that there is space to make the roster better," Dos Santos said. "But that being said, you can't do this in one transfer window. People cannot expect that with one transfer window we change everything with a club, because when you change players you need to click.
"You need a little bit of time for that to click, but everything that is being decided is looking at the medium- and the long-term of the club. So you'll probably see a lot of younger, energetic, dynamic type of players coming in."